This year my oldest started preschool and as I navigated this new system, filled in what seemed like an endless amount of paperwork, I was pleased to come across the Healthy Eating Policy.
I gave it a cursory read, as working at The Parents’ Jury, I was sure that there wasn’t much I didn’t know about such things, and promptly forgot about it.
So I sent my little one off to his first day, confident that I had packed his lunch full of healthy, and approved, food. And I stayed in my little self satisfied (but occasionally stressful-night-before-kinder-midnight-yoghurt-and-apple-run) bubble until I spent the day as a parent helper.
The day started well, early May and the weather in Melbourne had yet to turn cold, and off to kinder we went. I helped with the singing and dancing and block building and painting, and then came morning tea.
I sat down and watched as the hungry tribe of 4 and 5 year olds descended on the food trolley. Most had lunch boxes and bags filled with sandwiches, fruit, vegies and yoghurt. It was an absolute pleasure to sit and watch them fuel themselves, quite happy with food that mass media would have us believe that little kids won’t eat.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t see one salad sandwich and there was a lot more fruit than vegetables. But on the whole these kids had healthy lunch boxes with no junk!
I wandered over to the kinder teacher and said how great the lunch boxes were. She agreed and said that there had been some hiccups, but most parents were happy to send healthy food with the kids.
“We had to make some slight adjustments to how we enforce the policy as one of the kids brought plain milk despite our ‘water only’ policy”.
Oh no, I pack plain milk in our lunchbox! It turns out that I had started a mini revolution amongst the preschoolers who are now all determinedly bringing milk in their lunch boxes.
I’m not recommending this guerrilla action as a way to create change in your school, but simply highlighting the confusion that can occur around what is healthy for kids to eat.
This is precisely why we launched Food Detectives. We’ve worked with Dr Rosemary Stanton to examine some popular lunchbox items and determine whether they should be sent to school with our kids.
If you do want to create some change in your school, don’t follow my lead! Check out our Healthy Schools section for ways to campaign for change.